Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Oilcloth bags

I'm currently loving oilcloth bags - especially lunch bags!

Check out the examples from Martha Stewart's website below - she also provides a basic tutorial on how to put one of these together.

I love love LOVE them!

For a bag with a twist, the good folk at Design*Sponge came up with a woodgrain version, also with instructions provided.

As usual, more to add to my never ending To-Do list!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dinner at Orita's

I don't usually write about food on this blog - even though I love love LOVE to eat it - usually because I'm too lazy but this time I thought I would take a leaf out of Pooey/Frannie's and Mally's book and give it a bash. Also it was an 'occasion' dinner so all the more reason to blog I say!

Excuse the shoddy dark photos - my iPhone 3GS needs an upgrade methinks.

I've been on a bit of an eating plan recently in an effort to learn portion control, but I made an exception today so I could enjoy dinner at Orita's. Orita's came highly recommended by a workmate and I'm always a fan of Japanese food so I was ready and raring to go.

Unfortunately for me, I think my portion control diet has really worked, because the 2 arancini balls and mushroom tapas I had at a housewarming earlier in the day had me absolutely stuffed! Nevertheless, yummy Jap food was calling to me and I wasn't about to ignore it!

After making our choices and ordering from their fusion menu, we were given a complimentary starter of Japanese potato salad on a prawn cracker. Doesn't look like much but who doesn't love potato salad - and the addition of the crispy base sure didn't hurt. Yums!

FREEBIE STARTER: Potato salad on a prawn cracker

Next up was the Appetizer platter for 2 that I had eyed on another table as we walked it. I hadn't had raw fish for over 4 weeks so that was definitely on my list of things to eat. The dish came not only with a few slices of sashimi but also lobster sushi rolls, tempura prawns and the most tender beef cubes that melted in your mouth. Highly recommended but I wanted more raw fish!

ENTREE: Assorted Appetizer Platter (Share for two)

I was pretty full by then but mains were to come. We decided to share the 2 so we could enjoy both the lobster tail and wagyu steak - and this is where I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I thought perhaps it was just my full tummy tricking me into thinking the steak could be tastier but no, it was agreed that although the meat was nice and tender (which was to be expected since it was pretty much the most expensive dish on the menu!) it just wasn't that tasty. I think there should have been a bit more sauce provided. Boo. The lobster was decent - it tasted like lobster so no complaints there.

MAINS: Wagyu Steak and Grilled Lobster Tail

After the slightly underwhelming mains, I wasn't sure that dessert would be up to scratch, but then again I figured I probably wouldn't notice since I hadn't had anything overly chocolate-y for awhile.

I was right - the Chocolate Mousse Cake was very well received by my tummy!

DESSERT: Tempura Ice Cream with Fruits Sauce and Chocolate Mousse Cake

I must admit I had some reservations about the Tempura Ice Cream - I figured it was just glorified fried ice cream that could be purchased in any Asian restaurant for dessert but I was pleasantly surprised. The batter was light and almost fluffy - nothing like the heavy crusty batter on standard fried ice cream.

Overall dinner was good - great company and conversation - and great appetizers and desserts. I think we both agreed the mains were average for the price so if I did go back there again I think I would either order a larger appetizer platter or go for more sushi - the quality of the fish on the platter was fantastic *slurp*

Dinner was followed up with a viewing of the romantic classic The Expendables.

All in all a great night out.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Things are afoot...

Just not my invisible zipper foot.

Progress is still happening... just a little slower than expected.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

I can't even knit

But I totally have to buy this book!!

Cuteness overload!!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

My first burdastyle mag

I was mooching around in the local Borders the other night waiting for Mally and decided to peruse the magazine aisle to catch up on the latest celeb gossip - nothing like a bit of cerebral stimulation hehe - and I thought I'd check out the section with the craft mags.

Beading, cross-stitch, quilting, more beading... and then what did I see tucked away in the corner? A burdastyle mag. Having not read one before I opened it up to see what I could get for the 'import' cost of having it available in Australia.

I didn't expect much to be honest as I'd heard that the patterns and instructions could be quite confusing and I'm still pretty much a novice at sewing, but there were a couple of items that caught my eye, mainly the kiddie clothing and a summer dress.

A few more page flips though and I knew I had to buy it. I was super excited to see that this was the very issue I had thought about ordering in from overseas because of the One Dot Dress pattern that AllisonC had reviewed.

burda 05/2010 #105

Other reviews seem quite positive as well.

So now I've got the pattern, got some jersey in my stash, read the instructions and once I figure out what the Australian version of 'Vilene bias tape' is, I'll be set to go!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

active feet indeed!

Today I started Week 4 of my C25K program. If I was going to be really particular about it I should really be midway through Week 5, but my stupid knee has been playing up again so I decided to pace myself a little. I think I'll do a post on the program once I finish it but for now I have to say that even though I'm not really enjoying myself during the jogging intervals of each session, when I'm not at the gym I've been thinking about how I'm going to finish it all and be awesome at it *YAY*

Anyhoo, this knee issue has been quite the pain in the behind. I asked my physio if there was anything else I could do to improve the healing rate or prevent this from happening again and he asked if I had old or ill-fitting shoes. The 2 pairs I use aren't particularly old but were bought with my wide feet in mind. I had also had my feet assessed by the folk at The Athlete's Foot (who knew the name included the word 'The'?) and using an assessment pad that they get you to walk over, they found that my feet didn't over-pronate (i.e. roll in too much), so I was recommended some neutral shoes. Mr Physio took one look at me standing there in my bare socks and said that my feet looked like they did roll in. Needless to say I wasn't very impressed and decided to get a reassessment.

My suspected foot behaviour (pic courtesy of Philadelphia Runner)

I was quite reluctant to go back to The Athlete's Foot seeing as it sounded like they had gotten it wrong twice before (annoying!), but didn't know if I really needed to see a podiatrist. Mr Physio said that there was another option, a happy hybrid if you like, where I could go to a shop run by podiatrists who assessed the way your feet moved by putting you on a treadmill. I had never heard of such a thing - most likely due to my aversion to exercise - but it sure sounded worth a shot!

I visited a branch of the active feet chain over the weekend and the place was packed. Who knew there would be so many people with ungainly gaits around? After a bit of a wait, I got to chat to one of the staff, let's call him Fred, about my feet/knee/exercise issues and my shoe-wearing history. I then jumped on a treadmill that had a camera attached to the wall behind it, so as I walked my feet were projected onto a large screen in front of me. According to their website, this 'allows the individuals own biomechanical foot function to be assessed and a shoe selected to suit that individuals foot type'. Hurray for technology!

I must say I really didn't realise I had such an odd walk! Oh and also massive calves *cry* but I decided not to point this out to Fred as I figured new shoes weren't going to fix that issue and his care factor would be pretty close to zero.

The screen showed that my feet rolled in a bit too much before lifting up off the ground, so I needed shoes that addressed that problem. Fred brought out some shoes he thought would correct the issue, and then I got my walk and run re-assessed on the treadmill. As the original treadmill was occupied, we used a different one and guess what - my calves aren't all that big after all. Turns out the first camera was distorting the projected image :D

The shoes seemed to do the job well but Fred offered up a couple of other choices which were also assessed on the treadmill. What I found pretty amazing is that I was told to go for a 50m walk/run outside on the public pavement, which is something I guarantee most shops don't let you do, and I think that really helped me in my decision-making process.

So here they are - my new beauties!

Fresh and new Brooks runners in the box

As Fred explained to me, these particular shoes work well for my feet because the grey area under the arch of the foot is made out of foam that compresses less than the white area - so it stops my foot from turning it too far and corrects my gait when I walk/run.

That sure is a lot of correctional foam

So what was the verdict today? The shoes were comfy enough, they felt really supportive and now that I understand how my feet work I think they really did help with my exercise session! I now understand why my ankles got sore once in awhile as well - I used to think I was just weak and bad at exercise but I just wasn't getting enough support! No thanks to The Athlete's Foot. Admittedly the knee is still sore but I wasn't expecting miracles.

active feet : 1
The Athlete's Foot : a BIG FAT 0

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Macaron

It's finally finished!

Ta-dah! Sneaky front pockets

Actually I finished this a week ago but only got the chance to wear it today and take some photos. I could have just posted a photo of the dress on the hanger but it looks pretty average and shapeless without a body to pad it out.

As a precursor to the post I'd like to say that the photos in this post don't do justice to the dress - mainly because every crease and wrinkle shows up in these photos due to my (poor) material choice - and these aren't anywhere near as obvious in real life.

I used a black cotton-and-something blend with a slight sheen to it for the contrast to complement the black and white patterned mid-to-heavy weight cotton/lycra (I suspect it must be something like this since it has a fair amount of stretch if you tug at it) that I had picked for the body of the dress. I also used a black 16" invisible zip to finish.

Pattern (Colette Patterns: Macaron dress)
I did the right thing this time and made a muslin to make sure that I got the sizing right on this, and as per standard opinion, the Colette sizing was pretty much bang on.

The pattern was overall very straightforward, but when it came to the sleeves I ended up ignoring the instructions - they were confusing and the diagram confused me more than anything.

I was pretty excited with some aspects of the pattern as it marked 2 'firsts' for me - an invisible zip and a blind hem.

Not bad for a first attempt at the invisible zip

Both techniques were achievable after a bit of practice but it took me a bit of time to work out that I could actually put in the invisible zip without a special foot for my machine, contrary to popular opinion. This video definitely helped.

I don't know that the blind hem was the most suitable finish for the dress but I suspect that the stiffness of my fabric has something to do with this opinion.

Would I do it again?
I definitely want to make this again, using different materials. The photos below give you an idea of how the dress hangs and I'm slightly disappointed with how creased the dress is after 15 minutes of wear. The fake sweetheart neckline also doesn't hang very well. I thought that the heaviness of the material would mean that it would sit well on the bust but instead it seems to have resulted in some creasing.

Enough creasing there??

The sweetheart seam could sit a little better - and the creasing! *AUGH*

So yes, the creasing is bothering me to no end, which is really quite frustrating seeing as I spent a fair amount of time on the dress making sure that I had fnished all my seams well and taking a lot of time to practice with the blind hemming and the zip. I think next time I'll look to do this in lighter cotton materials next time - maybe in summer brights since we're now in the last month of winter *hurrah*!